As someone with a lot of friends and contacts in the real world and on the Net, I hear pretty much every opinion under the sun. From die-hard Communist all the way to equally didactic (and tellingly similar) Objectivist, I get it all day every day.
Lots of interesting stuff. And it’s no secret where my head is at on most things. I’ll listen to pretty much anything with one major exception–this odd idea that “both sides do it“, that right and left are equally to blame for the gridlock in DC and the animosity elsewhere.
The basis for this thinking, I assume, is Newtonian. For every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction. If it isn’t physics, it’s metaphysics best expressed by the Byrds’ biblically-derived second #1 hit song, that there’s a time and purpose for everything.
But there isn’t. Politics isn’t physics and left and right aren’t identical yet opposite, which would have to be the case for this proposition to be true. The psychology of the authoritarian vesus that of the anti-establishmentarian is completely dissimilar. If one side sees everything as black and white and a struggle where it’s good vs evil (and they’re the good guys) 100% of the time and the other side believes in nuance, degree of intensity, reason and logic based on evidence, both sides don’t do it. Yes–both sides are engaged in politics. But if one side “makes shit up and then sues for the right to do it legally” and the other is “if it isn’t factual, lose it”, then both sides don’t do it.
Filmmaker Michael Moore expressed it best when talking about his 2007 movie, “Sicko”. Every fact in that film was picked over by fine-toothed comb because he knew that any fuck up would be blasted over our “liberal media” 24/7. Contrast that to the soon to be retired from Congress Michele Bachmann or 2012 GOP candidate Mitt Romney who lied so much that it became impossible to keep up with them. And yet, until her recent campaign finance troubles, Bachmann was rarely if ever called to task in her hometown paper and with Romney, his unending string of fibs actually endeared him to his supporters!
If “both sides do it”, explain this remarkable bit of Anti-Americanism?
Because ”lying for the “cause” is, in the mind of the American Rightist, acceptable, because the cause is a holy war for the “soul of America”. Odd that the same people that lobby for the posting of the 10 Commandments everywhere seem to forget #9, the “false witness” one.
People on the left lie, too. There is no doubt of that, all people lie to a degree. But claiming that one side’s crapola is identical to the other is like saying that “Red Sox 12, Yankees 2” is a tie, because, after all, both teams scored runs, so they’re equal. Nope, were that so, the score would be 7-7. But that’s math. Which doesn’t lie. And as such, is pesky.
(It has to be said that the people that claim “both sides do it” in correspondance with me are always right-leaning. I think they’re have trouble letting go, but they’re getting there).
Adlai Stevenson, failed candidate for president said it better than I or anyone else can: I have been thinking that I would make a proposition to my Republican friends… that if they will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them.
That was 61 years ago. If he could only see us now.